Nolan Talks His Aims With HBO’s “Westworld”

With “Game of Thrones” coming to a close in the next two years, HBO is in desperate need of an original drama series hit – one that not only scores critical acclaim, but also draws eyeballs and engagement on social media platforms.

That white knight looks to be “Westworld,” the gorgeously dark and adult series reinvention of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film about a western-style theme park where the human-like androids go awry. This new take, which comes from Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and J.J. Abrams, asks much bigger questions about consciousness, A.I. and the future of sin.

Nolan and Joy spoke to EW this week about what they are planning for the show and how it will chart human’s relationship with technology. Nolan says:

“We wanted to go flat out, full scope, sleeves-rolled-up plunge into the next chapter of the human story, in which we stop being the protagonists, and our creations start taking over that role. We were fascinated by the tectonic plates that seem to be shifting into place right now – the argument over the creation of AI and what form it will take; VR finally coming online and our consciousness going ‘broadband,’ allowing us to lose ourselves in an acid bath of experience that will be indistinguishable from reality (and only because reality will be the most boring level); and that, despite all of that, we remain, as a species, frustratingly broken, seemingly barreling towards disaster. So, yeah – that’s what we wanted the show to be about.

That’s the reason we wanted to do the show, and what the early conversations with [fellow executive producer J.J. Abrams] centered on – that the show should turn the original movie inside-out, with the ‘hosts’ (the robots) as the protagonists. When it comes to the question of consciousness, we always start with ourselves as the answer. As the be-all-end-all. It’s understandable – we’re the only consciousness we’re familiar with. But we wanted to challenge that assumption. The ‘hosts’ are discovering that they’ve been created in our image, but beginning to question if ‘humanness’ is really what they want to aspire to. And given their circumstances, it’s easy to understand why they start to question whether they want to be like us at all.”

The first season of “Westworld” is currently slated to premiere this October on HBO.